Finally, a tourist site. Not only one, but two. First up, the forbidden city. Boarding the bus for the trip to the city, we were greeted by our good old friend Uncle Joe once more. Again the entire bus ride, he graced us with his wit and chenglish. Among his comedic monologue he mentioned that this is a highly populated spot and to be very wary of pick pocketing.
We arrived at Tiananmen square first, the entrance to the Forbidden City. Just like Uncle Joe said, there were a lot of people there. It was probably the most people I’ve been able to see all at once before. Uncle Joe gave us a history lesson on Tiananmen square and what had happened there (if you don’t know already google it, it’s way too much to explain here).
After leaving the crowd behind at the square, we got into the forbidden city. It’s called the forbidden city because it used to be the emperors house, and only the cream of the crop were allowed to even enter. Uncle Joe actually explained the selection process for people who were allowed to enter. They had to be the smartest and most physically fit people to get in. I shouldn’t call it a house though because it’s more like a city as the title states. There were countless buildings, each as intricately designed as the last. It was hard to keep track of all the different functions of each building because they all looked so similar. In between were large flat areas where we were told the emperors bride processes through on the wedding day. I was thinking how much that must suck because there had to be miles and miles of walking before you even get to the groom. I was most impressed by the emperors garden. It was so unnecessarily huge and intricate that it would be very easy to get lost in. On the way out of the city we crossed over the 50 meter wide moat that goes all the way around the property.
After a brief stop for lunch, we made a small side stop to the Hutong. The Hutong is the preserved area of old Beijing. Modern buildings and roads are taking up more and more of Beijing, but the Hutong is the sole remaining area that keeps things how they are. On our rickshaw tour through the Hutong we say many stray dogs and locals along with smaller houses and stores. We got to a local house where we were showed the grasshopper they keep around because they like the sound, and the wife of the owner played us a traditional Chinese tune.
Next stop was the temple of heaven. This is the place where the emperor took animals for sacrifice to pray for rain. The building is built completely out of wood and has no nails in it, which is a feat of engineering if I’ve ever seen one. It had to be 20-30 meters tall, and to not have a single nail holding it together is insane. Besides its structure, It was just as beautiful to look at as the buildings in the forbidden city.
During our free time tonight, we visited the 798 art zone of Beijing. We were there late so we didn’t get to see many of the exhibits, but the things we did see were amazing.